Thomas “Whit” Williams was born in Macon, NC, where he lived for 10 years before moving with his parents and sister to Raleigh, NC. He graduated from High School in Raleigh and completed a semester of college at St. Augustine College. In 1951, he joined the United States Army and served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. Upon completing military service he returned to St. Augustine and completed another semester. In 1954, he moved to Baltimore, MD and attended Morgan State College, now Morgan University. He graduated in 1958 with a BA in Music Education. He continued his education with graduate work at Towson State University and Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. From 1958 to 1995, he taught Music Education in the Anne Arundel Public Schools. Whit’s love for music performance began when he was an elementary school student. He received a trombone when he was 13 years old. He spent many hours around musicians listening to rehearsals and performances. He played in the High School Band while a student there. At Morgan he played in the string ensemble as well as the woodwind section of the Concert and Marching Bands. Whit is one of the most sought after professional musicians in the Baltimore Metropolitan area because of his versatility to perform many types of music. He has performed in stage productions including: “Lady Day at Emerson Bar and Grill” in 1993 at Center Stage in Baltimore, MD; “Dianah Was” in 2000 at Center Stage in Baltimore, MD; “A Love Supreme” in 2002 at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. He has performed as backup entertainer for such artists as: Diahann Carroll, Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughn, Anita Baker, Bob Hope, The Manhattans, Barry White, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lionel Hampton and Steve Allen. Not long after moving to Baltimore, Whit performed with the historical Royal Theater Band, one of the stops on the “Chittlin Circuit”. His band experiences include work with Rivers Chambers Society Band(1960-1971), Bobby Felder Band (1965-1971), touring with Gladys Knight Band (1981-1987) and a European tour with Ed Williams Band. In 1981, Whit’s interests and experiences came together when he formed “Now’s The Time Band”. His wife Ethel, who has been his most staunch supporter and companion, suggested the name. Indeed it was such a time for the band and it reflected their love of the musical rendition of the same name by jazz legend Charlie Parker. The Now’s The Time Band has given concerts and performed for a wide variety of occasions in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and along the East Coast. The Band’s style is reminiscent of historical Big Band Jazz artists. The repertoire includes music of jazz legends, as well as different genres of music. In addition to performing as a big band, the band performs as a jazz ensemble. Whit gives to the community as a Board Member of Jazz Heritage Foundation of Baltimore, Inc. Jazz Heritage has sponsored and conducted educational workshops for school aged children featuring such jazz legends as Milt Jackson and Max Roach. Whit’s professional affiliations include Musicians’ Union of Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC and the Maryland DOT Office of Minority Business Enterprise.
Source: Kennedy Center, Artist Biography